North East Hayling
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Seawall Update – the Final Session for 2009.

Sea WallTo misquote Bruce Forsyth, 'Didn't We Do Well?' Another successful day's work on the seawall has finished the planned repairs this summer. For many, it has brought a strong feeling of community spirit and new found friendships.  To others, the feeling of security that the wall should last a few more years.  

The now normal banter continued on the wall and in the farmyard.  I manage to jot down a few quotes which I thought you might like:

Sea Wall'I'm great at divorcing myself from reality and just carrying on' says one unnamed (for his own safety) individual as he marches across the wall pushing a wheelbarrow for the umpteenth time.  'You're obviously married then!' came the response from another quarter.

Christopher, our youngest sea-waller and child slave, insisted at 12:55 he had to leave at one.  When asked why, he replied that he had to go and sweep some chimneys.  Poor child!

Sea WallThe Victorian theme seem to be spreading as those carrying the buckets of soil from the MH to where they were needed asked, in an Oliver Twist fashion, 'Please Sir, can I have some more?' to those loading them up. Others were playing a game of 'The Weakest Link' in the bucket chain, but I never did find out who that actually was.  

Sea WallThe farmyard crew started to wonder what was the collective noun for Hessian sacks. If anyone knows the answer, do shout!  (Could it be Thousands?) Elizabeth and Jo turned up again at 11 with much needed shortbread and tea.   We'd had a call from Judy on the seawall shortly before, asking for a few more volunteers to go down there - but the 'Cement Baggers Union' refused to break ranks until the tea and shortbread had been demolished.

Sea WallMeanwhile, Stan Pike came out with a classic line.  The MH trundled over, the large bucket containing the ballast to mix with the cement for the next batch of mix.  He tipped it out in the usual spot, and then asked 'Was that bucket full?'  Next time Stan, give the boys a shout first and they'll check for you!  Derek and Colin made sure that the farmyard was the cleanest on Hayling by going round with a large broom, sweeping up those last little bits to go in to the sacks.  They'll be plenty of people asking you to do a similar job with their garden leaves soon guys!  

Sea WallThere's a new dance called the Seawall Swing as the sacks and soil come up on to the wall.  This is shortly followed by the seawall stomp as the soil is compacted down by jumping on it.  It's also become the latest place to meet a new partner!  Whilst 'doing the stomp', Suzanne approached one of the Colin's, asking if he came here often.  Apparently he does - but only during the mating season (but I'm not sure of what..!)  We did have about 3 Colins but the most popular name was Dave.  Someone did comment that if you yelled for Dave, you'd get half a dozen responses, and I don't think they were far wrong.

It appears that we've also become a theme park.  The 'Wallers' decided that seawall building is more fun and cheaper than a day out at Legoland. Could this be with the end in sight, it's gone to your heads guys?  And to those who wanted only to work with red lego bricks, well, I'm sorry, we won't be able to oblige you.... This year, beige is the new red.  

There have been a great many photographs taken this summer of all the action.  The best will be put up on the web in the special seawall gallery.  We are also investigating running a slide show or similar at the NEHRA Cheese and Wine party on Friday December 4th.   Put it in your diaries now!

This brings to a close the sea wall reports, but many, many thanks to all of you who have taken the time and effort to come and support us, whether financially or physically with this superb piece of volunteer civil engineering.  It wouldn't have happened without you. We also need to thank Judy Clark for her Quango Negotiation skills, bringing all those interested parties together and getting them to agree to the work; to Jonathan Simm, our Technical Expert on how to actually do the repairs properly; Dave Clark for Tonka Toy driving and John Griffiths for bring along his little red tractor; and not least Northney Farm for supplying the materials, celebration drinks and just being there, making the area special to us all.  Same Time, Different Spot, Next Year anyone?
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<!--[endif]--> PS -  Elizabeth - just what is that secret ingredient in your shortbread?


Northney and Tye Sea Wall Update - 15th August Session

WallWell, another great session has moved us closer to the finishing post on this project. We had a good number of people show up in the farmyard on the Saturday morning, with some going off to the wall leaving the rest of us filling those hessian sacks we are getting all too familiar with. In between socialising and debating about what weird competitions we could create of out some of the photos, the team managed to fill approx 300 bags and demolish lots of shortbread.

The full bags were then transported down to the wall by Stan in the Mechanical Handler (MH), John Griffiths - little red tractor and Mary's volvo pulling a trailer.

The 'Friday Gang' had already cleared the large area where the wall team were going to lay the filled bags. This involved tidying up the base of the bank to give a good vertical surface to build against. This made the Saturday bag laying a lot quicker. They got in to a really good routine with one person laying a row, and another guy following a touch after with a second layer, and so on. Steel pins were also driven through the bags for additional strength in places.

WallWhere the sea has eroded the path it has left great indents of crumbling soil and chalk. After forming a wall of bags, soil was lifted up to the wall by the MH. This was then manhandled into these holes, putting the path back to its original width. Martin had a novel idea of filling the holes quicker - by burying son Christopher in one! Talk about unfair - Christopher has been working his little socks off, with the aim to build his fitness for the next term's school rugby season. Simon retorted that actually, Martin, being an adult was larger than Christopher, so would fill the hole much better. And if he was buried face down he could also be used as a convenient cycle rack. What a cheek! If you do walk along the wall you will see these areas where the new soil is, minus cycle rack. Please, do us a favour and jump up and down on it a few times, to help compact it!

WallIt's got to the stage now where the larger holes are all nearly complete, which has given Tonka Dave the opportunity to start 'worrying' about the small holes. It just shows how much we have achieved this summer. Judy and Dave have taken several walks up on the wall when it has been high tide and are pleased to report that all the new bags we've laid are settling in well. However, under some areas of what looks to be solid path, is actually hollow where the sea has cut in underneath. This will have to be fixed in the next session.

As everyone had all worked so hard on the Saturday, we were given Sunday off for good behaviour. Unfortunately though there is a little more to do, and it looks like we could have enough people over this coming Bank Holiday Saturday for another good session. However, the more the merrier, so if you would like to come and join in, then please do. We will meet at 9.30am in the farmyard at Northney Farm and finished at approx 1.30pm. There will not be a Sunday session as we realise it is a bank holiday weekend and we could probably all do with a break.

This project has been a resounding success on a number of levels. We've managed to repair a long run of seawall that would have most likely been breached this winter, so saved the fields for the cattle. With the sea not claiming the fields, then the reservoir area for any surface water to drain in to from the roads and the village remains, hence protecting it from flooding.

People in the village have got to know each other so much better. We've had people turn up of all ages - whole families in some cases. The support team has been great too - Elisabeth should get a gold star for her shortbread! The banter heard amongst everyone is amazing. It truly feels like the village has pulled together in order to achieve something substantial and rewarding. I've also heard talks of 'Well, what's next? The rest of the wall?' Or talk about a Village Social in the Hall? A fete next summer? Barn Dance? World Domination? Or are we content just to keep up the jolly and community atmosphere in Northney and Tye we have created so far this summer? Any ideas and thoughts, do drop us a line.

So, to summarise, we are almost there. If you could help this Saturday, the please do contact us so we can work out the numbers. Meet 9.30 in the farmyard, with strong boots, backs and gloves.

See you there!

Another Successful Weekend! 31 July - 2 August

WallThe second of the planned sessions on the Permissive Path turned out to be as popular, if not more so than the first!

Friday 31 July was a beautiful day, and the eight willing volunteers managed to fill around 100 bags and backfill and clay top the first weekends work.  They even had a chance to landscape the top of the path where the soil had been laid.  Let’s hope it now takes!

WallThe weather on Saturday was unfortunately a bit of a let down.  Cloudy spells were interrupted with heavy rain and drizzle.  Resident expert Jonathan compared it to a good day on the western coast of Ireland.  Luckily this didn’t dampen the spirits of our eager volunteers, though Steve Helm was a little upset when he broke a finger nail.  Would this be cause for a strike under the newly formed ‘Cement Baggers Union’?

WallThe farmyard team managed to fill an impressive 300 bags, hiding in the farm’s workshop when the weather got too bad.  Jo Paton again turned up with much needed tea and homemade cakes during a break – many thanks!   The ‘Great Ice-Cream’ debate was then prompted by Tim Pike handing round a few free samples of Northney Ice Cream.  I vote for the Mango Yoghurt! Yum!

WallChris Emery and Bob Klitz have found themselves new jobs as gate keepers.  The cows had somehow escaped into the field through which the bags had to travel so they had the awkward task of manning the gates to let the vehicles through, whilst keeping the cows at bay. 
Meanwhile, on the wall, an impressive number of holes and gaps were filled.  The wall team are obviously getting the hang of this now and are looking for a new challenge, prompting discussion over what to build next. If a sand/cement bag pyramid starts of appear in our midst’s, I think we’ll know who the culprits are!

WallBy Sunday the weather had vastly improved and further 300 bags were filled and placed in the wall.  It’s starting to look pretty impressive as I hope the pictures show.  Do try and take a walk up there and take a look yourself.


Lessons Learnt

The lessons from the first weekend were put in to practice. John Griffiths kindly brought along his red tractor with box attachment, whilst Mary’s Volvo towed down trailers full of sacks.  Stan in the MH made up 2 piles of mix on the farm next to each other, so the farmyard team were able to move from one mound straight to the other without having to hang around.

Without doubt this repair work is proving to be a great way to get to know your neighbours.  The friendly banter and teamwork really shows what strong community spirit we have in the village. If we can do this, just what’s next?



Update on the Sea Defence Work on the Permissive Path around Northney - 18 July 09

Well, what can we say, apart from a huge thank you! I think it really hit us what a massive amount of support we had for this on the Friday night at the briefing session in Church Lane. A dozen people had written to me, saying they were coming – and about 40 turned up!

Here we listened to Judy Clark explain about how the bags were to be filled with a mixture of ballast and cement and how they would then be transferred down to the wall. The ‘wall team’ would then stack them in a cleared area of the sea wall, therefore preventing the sea from breaking through this winter.

Jonathan Simm, Technical Director of a Flood Management company and our volunteer expert then spoke about this worthwhile project and how he would be on hand to guide us where necessary.

As we had suddenly so many volunteers available for the following day, we divided in to an ‘early’ team and a ‘late’ team, with about 16 people in each team.

WallSaturday morning dawned bright and clear and the ‘early’ team all turned up on the farm at 10.15 as arranged. Here we were delighted to find that Sam from the farm had mechanically pre mixed a huge mountain of ballast and cement, so all we had to do was get it in to the bags. We quickly teamed up, one shovelling, another holding a bag and then moving it to one side when full. Jenny and Mick Stenning had it totally worked out – bringing along small stools to sit on – plus a spare! That’s teamwork for you!

The mountain quickly started to go down, so half the team moved on down to the wall to clear the first hole which was to be filled. They were soon followed by the first load of sacks driven down there by Dave Clark (aka Tonka Dave) in the Mechanical Handler (MH).

The Farm Team filled up the bags so quickly, that they had to wait for the MH to come back to mix the second batch. They therefore took the opportunity for a break with biscuits and cakes being kindly provided by Jo Paton.

Meanwhile the Sea Wall Team filled one hole and moved on to the second. Tonka Dave was able to get the bucket on the MH right up to where they were working, so although there was some passing of the sacks down to the shoreline, this was not half as much as anticipated.

We originally thought that we would get filled and laid about 100-150 bags on Saturday, given it was the first session. However, with the number of volunteers available it allowed us to fill all of those we had (bar 3 out of 200!), repair two small but urgent places on the wall and move on to start a third large hole. Amazingly this was performed in just over 2 hours, which meant we had to cancel the ‘late’ team as there was nothing left for them to do! (…but don’t worry, there’s still plenty left for the next sessions!)

Sea Wall 4We knew there would be some lessons to learn from this session, and information gleaned from this first session. Here’s what we found:-

  • 100 hessian sacks can be filled with mix (1 large bucket of ballast plus 5 bags of sand) in 30 minutes by circa 15people
  • Endeavour to make sure that there are always 2 vehicles available to move sacks between the farm and wall sites, although only the MH can put the bags on the wall
  • That one of these vehicles is the Mechanical Handler as it was so excellent at getting the bags up to the bank
  • Start off with 2 mixes being made up, (although this will take up more space atthe farm, as each needs to be mixed separately )for a longer working session ( weather dependant)
  • Bags must be placed upright so the content doesn’t fall out during the move to the seawall
  • Top of the bags must be tucked under when put on the seawall so the mix doesn’t fall out.

So, What’s Next?

We now have some clay to top off some of the backfill as we complete. It has been decided to use more bags to back fill, just covering the top 6-8 inches with clay and top soil to encourage the grass to grow again.

The next weekend session is:

Saturday 1st August at 10.00 am to 3pm, with a lunch break.
Sunday 2nd August at 10.30 am to 4pm, with a lunch break.

We will again meet in the farm yard.

We can then spit into two groups as before with one team going up to the wall to start clearing, and the second bagging up in the farm yard.

We currently have 19 volunteers for the Saturday and 17 for the Sunday. If you would like to join either of these working parties and have not previously contacted us, do please drop a reply to this mail saying which date(s) is your preference

This Friday is looking a little dodgy on the weather front. We currently have 8 volunteers, who Judy Clark will contact on the Thursday evening to discuss what work can be done on the Friday.

Please note, we have published some incorrect dates! The working parties will always be on the (Friday,*) Saturday and Sunday, but we’ve misread the calendar in September. The correct dates are as follows:

Friday 11th September, Saturday 12th September and Sunday 13th September.
Friday 25th September, Saturday 26th September and Sunday 27th September.
*Fridays may be used as a smaller group to top up the clay parts as and when, and we will see how this weekend's work goes .

Apologies for any confusion caused. Please just drop me a line if you now can or can’t join in on these dates.

Thanks again for your support and interest so far… Another update will follow after the next session.



If you have walked along the permissive path on the sea wall lately, you will know what a precarious state it is in, in places. We have been beavering away in the background obtaining the necessary approvals from the Environment Agency to carry out repairs and maintenance. This followed discussions, with themselves and Natural England etc etc, with the main proviso that we do not carry out any work when the over wintering birds return in October. So we have a window of opportunity NOW.

Background information:

The Environment Agency used to carry out certain repairs, but this help has been withdrawn as their National budget has to be spread more thinly, ie more urgent cases following river flooding. This has left the owners (Northney Farm) with an impossible task to maintain all this length single handed.

It became apparent that we should perhaps tackle this as a community project, as it is something that affects us all, for three good reasons:

  1. We will lose our protection from the sea, with potential flooding, roads cut off etc
  2. The reservoir in the saltmarsh becomes vital when all the road and surface water drainage need a collection point between tides.
  3. The farm will lose grazing land.
This is a very real threat that could happen this winter.... Each year we marvel that it has lasted through the previous one!

We have been discussing the construction details with Jonathan Simm. Jonathan is a coastal engineer who has worked on community projects such as this so has given us invaluable help. He will be here helping and guiding us for many of the weekends too.

How can you help:

So, we are looking for volunteers to help with these sea defences in a number of strategic places.

We will be working during half a dozen weekends in the summer in for 4 hours a day, working between the tides. All of the sessions will be in the morning with exact start times being confirmed soon. The dates we have in mind to suit the tides are:-

  • 18th-19th July ( Sat, and Sunday)
  • 31st July, 1st and 2nd August Fri, Sat and Sun
  • 14th-15th-16th August
  • 28-29-30th August
  • 12-13-14th September
  • 24-25-26th September

We will have a preliminary meeting on Friday 17th of July at 7pm, in the big Barn in Church Lane. Here we will explain more fully the details, answer any questions and also set up working teams, so that everyone will know what is involved and when.

If you are interested and able to help, please email with the dates you are able to help and a contact phone number, or contact Judy Clark via Please be aware that both of us will be away part of the intervening time before the 16th July, so may not get back to you immediately. Likewise if you have any burning questions which need an answer before the meeting, please email.

Basically we need two teams per session:

Team A will work at the Farm, filling up Hessian bags with a dry mix of cement and small ballast. We are aiming to set up a chute to make this much easier. The alternative is to use shovels! These full bags will be carefully stacked on pallets at the farm, and transported by tractor/trailer down to the shore in the appropriate place.

Team B will help unload the bags and pass down to others on the shore line, who will stack them into place, bonding the bags together as they go, in a stepped /slope format.

We will probably need about 12-16 people per session, so there is plenty of scope to help! Even a two hour stint would be useful. We will have a break mid session for a drink, so please bring flask or bottle of cold drink, if you want one, and cake or biscuits will be provided.

Saturday will be the main day but it is hoped also to do the same on Fridays, so that if you are at home and are able to come, we can use this day as well. We may not need all the dates set aside, this will depend on the weather and how much we can achieve at each session... It will be a bit of a learning curve to start with.

We will look at the work pattern in detail and do a risk assessment, to keep it as safe as possible: it is not possible to obtain any insurances in these circumstances, so that helpers will work at their own risk. We would advise wellingtons or walking boots, and dressed to protect from rain, wind or sun!

If heavy lifting is not your thing, we appreciate this, but you could still help, just by telling others of the project, or point them in the direction of the NEHRA web site. Alternatively you might like to donate a bag of cement, or the cost of one, towards the scheme. As they say, ‘every little helps!’ Even a cake to assist workers on their way would be very welcome too, I am sure!

Please don't underestimate the importance of this work: we are all potentially affected.

Together we have the opportunity to make a long term difference, and perhaps have some fun at the same time.



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